Dinner/ Ethnic Food/ Recipes

Chicken Tikka Masala

Can you believe that up until last night I had never made chicken tikka masala before?!

I’ve been so stuck on channa masala that I never even thought to expand my horizons. Chickpeas are cheap and every time I made it, I felt like a more triumphant girlfriend for getting my boyfriend to eat (and enjoy!) a purely vegetarian meal.

But then there was last night.

It was raining, windy and cold. My jeans were wet from running (literally) to the grocery store while my masala sauce simmered on the stove because I forgot the cream.

How does one forget the cream?

I wanted everything perfect for when Adam arrived since he treated me to such a lovely dinner out the night before and has a dislocated shoulder and all.

Finally, everything was ready. And somehow I managed not to ruin the rice.

After my first bite of the spicy cream-laced sauce with chunks of tender marinated chicken, it was love. Fireworks even! I’m sure I’ll make channa masala again but in my mind, this tikka masala completely blows that dish straight out of the water.

Chicken > chickpeas

Don’t let the lengthy list of ingredients deter you from making this! The marinade comes together in a snap and can be done the day before.

It’s spicy Indian comfort food at it’s best and should be served alongside fluffy garlic naan and rice to soak up all the yummy sauce.

Trust me. You must make this.

Make it for yourself. Make it for someone you love. Make it for your neighbor. Just make it!

You won’t be sorry.

Chicken Tikka Masala

serves 4

Print this recipe!



1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into one inch cubes

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 cup plain yogurt (not nonfat–I used 2%)

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 T canola oil

juice of one lime

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 inch piece fresh ginger

masala sauce:

1 T canola oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T fresh ginger, minced

1 T garam masala

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

28 oz diced tomatoes

3/4 cup cream

juice of one lime

wooden skewers


Toast coriander and cumin seeds over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Place all marinade ingredients except for chicken in a blender and process on high for thirty seconds or until everything is smooth.

Place chicken breast cubes in a bowl and pour marinade over. Cover and refrigerate for three hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat broiler. Soak skewers in cold water for thirty minutes so they don’t burn. Then, stick three to four cubes of chicken on each. Place in a foil-lined pan and broil for about 6 minutes per side or until cooked through.

Heat the extra tablespoon of canola oi up in a dutch oven. Saute the diced onion for about 5 minutes and then add the ginger and garlic. Add the garam masala, salt, pepper and cayenne and saute another 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes and the cream and simmer for 10 minutes—the sauce will thicken slightly.

Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and squeeze a lime over top.

Serve with rice or hot garlic naan!


3 hours prep (can be done the day before), 20 minutes cooking

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  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    February 16, 2011 at 5:02 am

    i don’t know a lot about indian food…never really had it growing up…but i DO know that i love your channa masala and anything with cream HAS to be good!

  • Nora@LifeLifeEatRight
    February 16, 2011 at 5:02 am

    YUMMM!!! Beautiful choice. Even if it was a struggle to get the cream haha, at least you had a fantastic meal at the end of your journey!!

  • Christie {Nourishing Eats}
    February 16, 2011 at 5:03 am

    Holy long ingredients list – but I will take your word for it that it isn’t scary ๐Ÿ˜€ I love Indian food but it really intimidates me to try cooking it at home. I’ve only ever made daal and one time I made it so freaking hot that we couldn’t even eat it. And I haven’t gone back since. BUT, maybe i will give this a try.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    February 16, 2011 at 5:04 am

    I just made naan for the first time yesterday… now I need this to eat it with.

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:18 am

      you made naan AND pot pie yesterday?! You’re on a roll!

  • Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl
    February 16, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Yum! I never even thought about trying my hand at this at home until now! Love the spice factor to this dish ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    February 16, 2011 at 5:09 am

    That looks amazing, but Indian food really does scare me! Making it, not eating it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • megan @ blackberries for jam
    February 16, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Holy moly, this looks tasty! I am so intimidated by Indian food though. It’s one of those things I usually just get out.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    February 16, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Oh wow, I may just have to whip up some Indian food tonight because of this post!! Love all the photos Jenna, you have SUCH a knack for making everything look delicious!

  • mary (sisters running the kitchen)
    February 16, 2011 at 5:19 am

    this looks so delicious….but i have never have eaten Indian food!!! this must change.

  • Hannah (Culture Connoisseur)
    February 16, 2011 at 5:21 am

    This looks awesome, and doesn’t have that “mystery meat” thing that happens at a lot of Indian restaurants. Me likey!

    I also enjoy feeding my husband vegetarian or vegan meals on the sly. Last Sunday I said “Can you believe we haven’t eaten meat all week?” “What!?” he said. He had no clue. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • maria @ Chasing the Now
    February 16, 2011 at 5:24 am

    I’m 99% certain this will happen very, very soon!

  • Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen
    February 16, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Oh wow, wow, wow – this sounds incredible! I’m a fan of all things Indian-fare related…must jump on this one.

  • amanda
    February 16, 2011 at 5:26 am

    this looks tasty. will definitely try it out!

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    February 16, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Chicken is definitely > chickpeas! Looks great!

  • Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day
    February 16, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Indian food is so delicious! People are often so intimidated by the amount of spices, but once they get over the fear they realize how simple it is to make such flavorful dishes.

  • jenna laughs
    February 16, 2011 at 5:32 am

    I am always looking for new ways to make chicken. It was funny when you said, “Can you believe that up until last night I had never made chicken tikka masala before?!” I was thinking, ummm. I have never even HEARD of this dish. Haha! But I can’t wait to try it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • RhodeyGirl
    February 16, 2011 at 5:38 am

    I’m not too into Indian food but this looks really interesting! Did Adam love it?!

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:15 am

      he piled all his rice and chicken into his naan bread, took a bite and moaned! then I gave him all the extras to take to work for lunch today..He’s a happy guy ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Marieke
        February 18, 2011 at 5:17 am

        owww, we have a place here who sells King Curry Kebabs. They are awesome. It’s basically a massive naan topped with chicken tikka, veg curry, spiced veg, spicy sauce, onions etc. It is all put in a regular pizza box and I eat it with raita. I thought of it when you said Adam puts all the stuff in the nan and eats it like that. Hmmm I’m hungry now…

  • Justeen @ Blissful Baking
    February 16, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE chicken tikka masala!! I don’t have any of those spices in my kitchen, but I guess this is the perfect opportunity to go out and buy them!

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:14 am

      buy them! Then you’ll have them for when your next Indian food craving strikes.

  • Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat
    February 16, 2011 at 5:40 am

    That looks tasty and I don’t even usually like Indian food! I’ll have to give it a go.

  • Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes
    February 16, 2011 at 5:40 am

    YES! This is a favorite dish of mine, but I’ve never found a way to make it part of our regular rotation. Seems like a lot of steps… and as you said, chickpeas are cheap, and the joy of a satisfying, veg meal reminds me a lot of when I was living in India!

    But sometimes you need to splurge, both in the $$ as well as with time spent! Thanks for the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life
    February 16, 2011 at 5:49 am

    “spicy indian comfort food”–> say no more!

  • brandi
    February 16, 2011 at 5:59 am

    This is one dish I am a little scared to make at home ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s just SO delicious from our local Indian place – I don’t want to mess it up!

    But my husband’s recent obsession with it may change my mind ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Becky
    February 16, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Did you move into the new house? Is your new kitchen bigger than your other one!? We’d love to see a house tour (or at least, a kitchen tour)!

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:14 am

      I haven’t moved yet—I’m in that awful in between stage where half of my stuff is there and half of it is all over my old apartment floor. It’s kinda driving me crazy! I’ll do a kitchen tour when I’m finally in. It’s small (no dishwasher or garbage disposal) but has a FIREPLACE to redeem itself!

      • Becky
        February 16, 2011 at 8:11 am

        Ugh the in between stage is the worst! I always feel so disjointed during the week before and after a move! Good luck!

  • dee
    February 16, 2011 at 6:20 am

    this sounds truly amazing.

  • Natalie @ Will Jog For Food
    February 16, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Chicken Tikka Masala is my FAVORITE Indian Food! I’ve wanted to make it but the ingredient list does look intimidating. Yours looks awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Evan Thomas
    February 16, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Dear God, I could swim in this. Indian food always scares me off from trying it but this looks SO worth it.

  • Shannon @ Freshman Yr of Life
    February 16, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Your pictures have been extra fantastic lately. Even more so bc you’ve developed a common theme among them all. Keep it up girl!

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:11 am

      thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Richelle
    February 16, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I bet this tastes amazing!

  • Jessica @ Healthy Dairyland
    February 16, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Omg I gained almost 10 pounds when I first moved to London. The Sainsbury by my apartment had the most delicious chicken tikka masala, and I was eating it every single day. Indian food baby!

  • Krystina (Organically Me)
    February 16, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I’d love to make a vegan version of this!

  • AJ Ragosa
    February 16, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Yeay! you took my facebook suggestion! Also, I think you and adam need to take another trip to austin! There are so many awesome restaurants like moonshine, uchis, all the different food trailers, etc. You would not be disappointed

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:11 am

      We’re coming for a week next month! Wahoooo!

      • AJ
        February 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm

        Awesome! Blogger meet up at threadgills? It is southern food at its finest!

  • Maria
    February 16, 2011 at 7:20 am

    This is my sister in law’s favorite dish. I can’t wait to make it for her. Thanks!

  • Angharad
    February 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I feel like I was sending you subliminal messages…when you tweeted “what are people’s fave ethnic dishes” last night my response was chana masala and chicken tikka masala….creeeeeepyyyyyy.

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:33 am

      lol!! It seemed like this was a lot of people’s favorite. I can see why!

  • Holly@Chunky Monkey
    February 16, 2011 at 7:44 am

    That looks amazing! I am always trying to come up with new chicken recipes.

  • Shells
    February 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I think I’ve been waiting years for this post. I have loved every single one of your recipes so far! Made Heath Bar Blondies last night for lab meeting today (minus the “quality control” pieces that were, ahem, sacrificed in the process). Love the vegetarian yellow curry, and am going to try channa masala soon! Getting up courage to try pince-ing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Please let us know when your book comes out! I will definitely be purchasing a copy!

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 7:55 am

      yay! Thank you so much!

  • Brooke @ bittersweetb
    February 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I love Chicken Tikka Masala! I’ve eyed your chana masala recipe but I was hoping the the chicken would eventually make it to the show! It has! And I can’t wait to try it.

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Let me know when you do! It’s only 8:15 here and already I can’t wait until lunch…

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    February 16, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I love Indian food and this looks fantastic!! I had to laugh at your forgetting the heavy cream. I did that once with a cupcake recipe, but I needed maraschino cherries. Not ten minutes after leaving the grocery store, I went back solely for the cherries. The woman at the checkout thought my cherries and I were crazy. lol

  • Miranda
    February 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I made Chicken Tikka Masala last night too! It was a different recipe, but what a coincidence!

  • Laura @ prettylittlewords
    February 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    This looks uh-MAZING…but I don’t know if I can convince myself to go to the store and pick up a handful of new spice jars. Gah, so many! I will have to keep this bad boy on the back-burner though… (pun intended)

  • Stephanie @ Thorns Have Roses
    February 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

    The boy will go nuts for this.

  • Helen
    February 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

    That looks amazing but most of those ingredients are definitely not a staple in my house so I guess Indian takeout it is ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Susan
    February 16, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Where did you and Adam go to dinner the other night? That’s the part I miss most about your site…seeing the restaurants you’d go to. Any chance that will ever come back?

    • jenna
      February 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

      We went to a delicious restaurant in Healdsburg–Barndiva! It was a surprise and I looved it!! I didn’t go into details about it because I’m really trying to keep some aspects of my life private…sometimes it’s important to us both to keep special things between us instead of sharing everything to the whole Internet. I’m sure you can understand!

      • Karen
        February 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

        Indeed, we do understand and respect your desire for a private life, Jenna! Lovely response to the inquiry too!

      • Susan
        February 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

        I totally understand…thanks!

  • Vanessa
    February 16, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Ahh this looks soooo good. I’m looking forward to making this soon. You forgot Naan bread though!!

  • Natalia - a side of simple
    February 16, 2011 at 9:35 am

    You don’t even KNOW how long I’ve been waiting for you to post a chicken tikka masala recipe!! You just made my week ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Christine
    February 16, 2011 at 9:46 am

    mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about this spicy, indian goodness. I love a nice chana masala, I think this is a must try.

  • kate
    February 16, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I’ve been having so much fun experimented with Indian food. This recipe sounds fabulous.

  • Lisa
    February 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

    YUM! I love this! I discovered it recently at Trader Joe’s in their frozen dinners. It was so tasty and I want to try and make it on my own.

  • Mary Catherine
    February 16, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Chicken Tikka Masala is my favorite Indian dish! I made The Clay Pit’s version (favorite Indian restaurant in Austin!) a few months ago and boy was it a process! It was superb but I haven’t had the strength to attempt it again. I can’t wait to try your version!

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie
    February 16, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I feel like a total bigot but I have seriously had something against Indian food my whole life. Just this past year I decided that was lame and that I should get into it. I’ve never had chicken takka masala either!

  • AshleyH
    February 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I am looking forward to trying this and your channa marsala. I have never had indian food before but I have been missing chinese food since I learned I have a soy allergy. I think this might be my new alternative I wonder what my fiance will think of this.

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    February 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    This looks great!

    Just yesterday I posted a lentil recipe with garam masala and ginger and raisins. I am all about recreating exotic flavors without having to leave my own kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the looks of the sauce and flavors you used, Jenna!

  • mary (what's cookin' with mary)
    February 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    This looks amazing Jenna! Tikka masala is B’s favorite. MUST make this!! Thank you for the recipe.

  • Corina
    February 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    I love Indian food and this is one of the dishes on my list of things to make this year.

  • Chicago Cuisine Critique
    February 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I actually just tried this dish for the first time over the weekend. I think my boyfriend would probably propose right there if I actually made this for him. Haha. Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jennifer
    February 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Every time I go to an Indian restaurant, this is the dish I make. It’s intimidating to me to try and make it on my own, but you’ve inspired me! Maybe this will have to be the meal I make for our next girls’ night. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Sahar
    February 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Your recipes always work out so perfectly for me – I can’t wait to try this one! Keep the savory dishes coming (I can’t be trusted around the sweet ones lol) ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kim @ Wallet Friendly Wellness
    February 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Love it! My boyfriend is of Sri Lankan descent, so he makes a lot of Indian/Sri Lankan food. This is my fave one to eat! I looove the cream in the sauce. I finally learned how to make a spinach and lentil daal, and I’m obsessed. Can’t wait to surprise him with this dish, too ๐Ÿ™‚

    p.s. The boyfriend’s taking me to wine country this fall!! I can’t wait to see it for myself after all of your lovely pics.

  • Lisa (Dishes of Mrs. Fish)
    February 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    My husband has been begging for Indian food. I see this recipe being made in my near future!

  • Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal
    February 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I wish I hadn’t eaten dinner already. Drool. Cannot wait to make this. Apparently I’m so excited I’m having a hard time writing in complete sentences.

  • Dixie Caviar
    February 17, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Wowza! This is bookmarked (and will be my very first attempt at Indian Food). This Southern girl needs to branch out!

  • Bluej @ theyellowbrickroad
    February 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    looks awesome cant wait to try it!

  • Rachel Wilkerson
    February 26, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    YUM! I just made this and it was so good. Instead of having it with rice, I just mixed in some chickpeas and I was good to go! But I think I’m going to make your naan to have with the leftovers.

  • Ashley
    March 13, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Aaahhh, I made this yesterday (with your roasted garlic naan) and, oh. my. lord. So freakin’ good, my kitchen still smells like an indian restaurant. I’ve been craving good indian food for a while, and picked up some whole garam marsala at an indian market (for like $1! crazy!), and finally had the time to put it all together. I think I used a bit more cayenne than you called for, because it was SPICY… I had to add plain yogurt to mine to cool it off. My boyfriend powered through his, but he was sweating. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But oh, so good. Thanks for the great recipes! Keep ’em coming!

  • Jaclyn
    April 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I made this tonight.. it is delicious.. the chicken is so tender, and it’s got bite!! I opted for the low fat no naan bread … and immediately regretted my decision! My husband loves spicy food and he’s been blowing his nose ever since he finished eating.. ๐Ÿ˜€ I have a feeling the leftovers will be even better tomorrow!

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    Oh my!!! I never thought I could top the Channa Masala recipe you shared, but this…now THIS is gold. Thank you!!!

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  • Kelsey
    July 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    We made this last night, with both white rice and naan. Wow, sooo good! And so so so hot. The leftovers for lunch today were even hotter! I loved the flavor profile; if I make this again, I’ll probably have to cut back a bit on the cayenne so my husband can enjoy it more.

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    August 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I love, love this recipe for tikka masala. I’ve made tikka masala several times from different recipes, but this one is hands down the best. The marinade just tenderizes the chicken to perfection, and the flavor profile is just right!

    And I may also just eat the tomato sauce straight. I mean, isn’t that just Indian Spiced Creamy Tomato Soup? ๐Ÿ™‚

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    January 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

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    July 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    This was delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe! I had all of the ingredients. It is hard to find really good indian food recipes and this is definitely a keeper. Super simple too.

  • Rachel
    August 6, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Hey Jenna question…this recipe sounds amazing, but I’m lactose intolerant, can I substitute lactose free yogurt and cox it cream?!?

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    September 2, 2012 at 11:29 am

    This was DELICIOUS!! We had it over white rice along with roasted garlic naan. We will definitely be making this again ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sarah
    October 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Hi! I’m new to your site. I made this today and it was so delicious! My husband and I enjoyed it and it really wasn’t too difficult. Thank you–I look forward to making more of your recipes!

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    I absolutely LOVE Indian food. The depth of flavor is just unmatched by any other type of ethnic food as far as I am concerned. I cook a lot more Asian dishes than I do Indian, but I must try this. I will certainly let you know how it goes!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the inspiration for my blog!

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    Wow, just made this on a very chilly night and it was fantastic, just like you said!!! I paired it with chard and kale sauteed with garlic in ghee which was delicious together. I also used ghee instead of the canola oil in the recipe, which I think added an extra element. Both my partner and I gobbled it up and now have smiles in our bellies. Will for sure make this again.

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